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Between Riverside and Crazy Reviews: Stephen Adly Guirgis At His Best

StephenMcKinleyHendersoninBetweenRiversideWalter was shot by a cop ten years ago, and has lived on booze and pie and regret ever since – but it’s more complicated than that. For one thing, Walter was himself a cop. And he lives in a spacious Upper West Side apartment, although it’s crowded with his disappointing relatives and assorted ne’er-do-wells, and his landlord has sent him one eviction notice after another.

“I’m a war veteran senior citizen with a legal rent-control lease from 1978, and I never pay late. I wish they would try to fuck with me,” Walter says.

Stephen Adly Giurgis’ latest play “Between Riverside and Crazy” offers more than his street-smart dialogue and gritty comedy. It also offers up Stephen McKinley Henderson, a long time character actor — one of the foremost interpreters of August Wilson — in his first starring role.

What do the critics think?

Jason Clark, Entertainment Weekly: A- quite possibly Giurgis’s most accomplished piece to date. And compared to his other street operas, it’s almost cuddly in its intimate family-living backdrop. In this case, cuddly also entails booze, drugs, and prostitutes.

Linda Winer, Newsday: a smart, exuberantly funny urban dramedy with a spirit as shrewd and forgiving as its motor-mouth language is wild and lush.

Marilyn Stasio, Variety: Stephen Adly Guirgis is such a quintessentially New York playwright, it’s incredible how popular his plays are outside the city limits. You have to wonder what those out-of-towners will make of “Between Riverside and Crazy,” the scribe’s latest love/hate song to this impossible town and its outlandish citizenry. Some might be baffled by the rancorous real-estate battles between landlords and tenants of Gotham’s rent-controlled apartments.  But everyone’s bound to be captivated by Guirgis’s loudmouthed locals and the terrific ensemble players, led by Stephen McKinley Henderson, who bring them to roaring life in Austin Pendleton’s affectionately helmed production.

Ben Brantley, New York Times: resides in an in-between land of its own. I’d locate it somewhere south of cozy and north of dangerous, west of sitcom and due east of tragedy….as fresh and startling as “Hat,” but in a slyer, quieter vein. “Hat” was a volcanic chain of eruptions; “Riverside” creeps up on you

Matthew Murray, Talkin’ Broadway: Walter’s all about optimism and acceptance, and those two qualities that ensure that Guirgis’s deceptively brutal script stays buoyant and even funny as it gets progressively darker….Walter charmingly grandfatherly even as he’s willing to sacrifice his closest family and friends in pursuit of what he considers justice…Nothing else in the two-hour evening is quite as captivating, though nothing needs to be. All we need to see is how a lifetime of love followed by a decade of disappointment can twist a man’s spirit into something that’s at once unrecognizable and irresistible.

Robert Kahn, WNBC:  an attention-grabbing drama from the… still-blasphemous author of “The Motherf***er With the Hat.”An ultimately unnerving story about human nature, “Riverside” has so much going for it that it insists on your attention, even though it’s depressing as all get-out.

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About New York Theater
Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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